#BlogTour | #BookReview: Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran (@Christi_Curran) @KillerReads

her deadly secret.jpg“A FAMILY BUILT ON LIES…

A dark and twisty psychological thriller, in which a young girl is abducted and her family is confronted with a horror from deep in their past. 

A young girl has been taken. Abducted, never to be seen again.

Joe and Hannah, her traumatized parents, are consumed by grief. But all is not as it seems behind the curtains of their suburban home.

Loretta, the Family Liaison Officer, is sure Hannah is hiding something – a dark and twisted secret from deep in her past.

This terrible memory could be the key to the murder of another girl fifteen years ago. And as links between the two victims emerge, Joe and Hannah learn that in a family built on lies, the truth can destroy everything…”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today as it’s my stop on Chris Curran’s Her Deadly Secret blog tour.  I was absolutely delighted when asked to feature on the tour for her latest release as Chris was one of the incredible authors who took part in my #damppebblestakeover last Summer.  (I can’t quite believe that was a year ago!) Back then, Chris wrote a fantastic piece on ‘Amnesia Noir’ which I urge you to read (click here).  Particularly if you are looking for a few book recommendations!

I couldn’t help myself and I HAD to read and review Her Deadly Secret.  We are first introduced to Joe, father of missing school girl, Lily and husband of Hannah. The news doesn’t appear to be good and the sorrow you feel for this one character is immense. But this is only the very tip of the iceberg in what proves to be a multi threaded and intricate tale of secrets and lies.

The story is divided into three POVs.  You have Joe, father of missing daughter Lily. Loretta, who is the Family Liaison Officer (FLO) for Joe and his wife, Hannah.  And finally, Rosie, whose sister Alice was murdered when she and Rosie were just children.  I loved Curran’s multi point narration but couldn’t for the life of me work out how Rosie fitted into the plot.  It’s only as you progress through the book do you discover exactly how detailed and intricate a tale the author is telling.  I confess, I did get a little muddled by the number of characters but once I’d written them all down, I was well away and had no further problems.  More to do with me and my ageing memory than anything else I think!

In a story about terrible things happening to normal people, I couldn’t understand why there was so much emphasis on the FLO, Loretta and her own fractured home life.  It WAS interesting and I enjoyed reading about her but it did feel a little like ‘filler’ in some scenes.  I understand that she was there as part of an ongoing investigation but she did feel a little superfluous at times (as the characters tend to make the big case breaking discoveries more than those that are employed to do it).  She’s a great character but at times I wanted her to step away from the limelight so I could focus more on Joe, Hannah, Rosie and her parents.

Would I recommend this book?  I certainly would.  It’s a tense tale about family secrets and not really knowing those we claim to love.  Great twists, one of which I didn’t see coming and it blew my socks off! I would pick up another book written by Chris Curran in a heartbeat.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Her Deadly Secret.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran was published in the UK by Killer Reads, Harper Collins on 21st July 2017 in eBook format (with the paperback to follow in August 2017) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Foyles | Goodreads |

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DSCF1459.JPGChris Curran lives in St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex. Her first two psychological thrillers, Mindsight and Her Turn To Cry, were both Amazon bestsellers.

She also writes short stories one of which was recently shortlisted for the 2017 CWA Margery Allingham award.

Her latest novel, Her Deadly Secret, is published as an ebook on July 21st 2017 and a paperback in August.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

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#CoverReveal: House of Lies by E.V. Seymour (@EveSeymour) @KillerReads @HarperImpulse

I am delighted to be able to share the cover of House of Lies with you this evening. House of Lies is written by E.V. Seymour, published by the awesome Killer Readers and is available to purchase NOW!  Click here for the amazon.co.uk purchase link and for more information.

Here’s the blurb to tempt you:

A sudden disappearance…

When Roz Outlaw’s partner Tom mysteriously vanishes, she knows his life is in danger. Tom has been distracted lately, afraid, as though he is being hunted…

A desperate search…

With the police showing little interest Roz knows it falls to her to find Tom. But as Tom’s secrets are uncovered nothing can prepare Roz for the dark lies and twisted truths she finds. She thought she loved Tom, but quickly realises she has been living with a stranger – a man with murder in his past.

A house of evil.

The key to unlocking Tom’s past lies in his childhood home – Vixenhead. A house of wickedness that keeps its secrets well hidden. Can Roz find Tom before it’s too late or will the evil within Vixenhead claim her too…

And here’s the gorgeously creepy cover:

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I can’t wait to read House of Lies.  I love the grey and the yellow and I am drawn to that glowing top floor window!

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Author image and bio (c) http://www.evseymour.co.uk/

Eve Seymour was born in West Bromwich in the West Midlands and spent much of her early years in the surrounding area. Through an unhappy chain of events, she was sent away to school in Malvern then Cheltenham, later fleeing institutional life for the bright lights of the Edinburgh Festival. Captivated by the city, she decided to stay – home being a grotty bed-sit next to a football ground – and paid the rent by selling stationery supplies.

After a move to London, she began an arts degree, which she dropped out of to join a public relations consultancy – home moving up several gears to a flat in Kensington, shared with a couple of old school-friends. During her P.R. career, she was involved in a number of accounts, mainly medical and nutritional, and included the Woman’s Own Children of Courage awards, which she ran for two years. After another move to a P.R. consultancy in Birmingham, she married and moved to South Devon. Five children later, she began writing in her spare time. Previous writing credits include a number of short stories broadcast on BBC Radio Devon, and articles in Devon Today magazine. She has since bent the ears of a number of police officers in Devon, West Mercia and West Midlands, including Scenes of Crime and firearms, in a ruthless bid to make her writing career more enduring than previous attempts.

Photo by For All Seasons 01299 879968

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Ice Lake by John A. Lenahan (@johnlenahan) @KillerReads

ice lake.jpg“…WHERE EVERYBODY LIES. AND SOME PEOPLE KILL…

An electrifying debut crime novel and the first in a new series featuring psychologist Harry Cull. Perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride, Mark Billingham and Peter May.

AN ABANDONED BODY
Deep in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the body of a man is found – shot three times, dumped under the trees where the local kids will find him.

A HAUNTED PSYCHOLOGIST
Psychologist Harry Cull, tormented by his past, arrives in the picturesque town of Ice Lake to help with the murder investigation. There he unravels a web of lies and deceit that leads to the dark heart of a community torn apart by fracking, drugs and murder.

A DESPERATE KILLER
It’s not long before the second corpse turns up, this time a lawyer left for dead in the forest, and Harry finds himself on the trail of a twisted killer – who will do anything to keep the town’s darkest secrets buried.”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my turn to host the Ice Lake blog tour.  Alongside me are two fabulous bloggers, Helen at Life of a Nerdish Mum and Alison at Ali the Dragon Slayer.  Both blogs are brilliant so please make sure you pop over and say hello!  Ice Lake is author, John A Lenahan’s debut crime thriller and was published by Killer Reads on 7th July.

And what a cracking crime debut! I really liked Lenahan’s lead protagonist, ex-cop turned psychologist, Harry Cull.  I’ve always been interested in the study of body language and what your subconscious is revealing about you, the secrets it discloses. Those little ‘tells’ that indicate to a professional that you’re lying.  And that’s exactly what Harry does. Having experienced Harry’s ‘powers’ at a conference, he is drafted in by Trooper Ed Cirba to assist in a murder investigation which has rocked the picturesque town of Ice Lake.  Harry and Trooper Cirba are at a loss.  Then another body is discovered, this time a lawyer left for dead in his car.  Will Trooper Cirba and Harry be able to discover who is lying and who the murderer is before a third victim is found…?

There is a lovely level of humour in this book and the banter between Cirba and Cull really adds to the story.  As regular readers of the blog will know, I’m one for the characters in a story and Ice Lake is chock full of some really interesting people.  I particularly liked Todd, the miserable local gossip who also happens to own the local shop.  Todd to his face, Toad behind his back!  And then there’s MK, the love interest.  I don’t tend to enjoy reading about budding relationships in my crime novels but I warmed to MK so much that their smoochy moments didn’t really bother me.  I appreciated that the author stopped narrating the action as soon as it became a bit frisky too.

Would I recommend this book?  I would and I can’t wait to read the next in the Harry Cull series.  This is a really promising start to what could become one of my future favourite crime series.  Great pacing, lots of wonderful dialogue between this cast of appealing characters and a great ‘didn’t see that coming’ twist.  I really liked Ice Lake.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Ice Lake.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Ice Lake by John A. Lenahan was published in the UK by Killer Reads on 7th July 2017 and is available in eBook format (with the paperback to follow in August 2017) | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Goodreads | Book Depository | Foyles |

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John Lenahan came to Britain from his native Philadelphia for a short trip and has never quite made it back.

 John originally grabbed the headlines as the first person in 85 years to be expelled from the Magic Circle. The 3-card trick he exposed on How Do They Do That? is no more than a gambling con, but John took the rap and enjoyed the publicity.

 2004 saw him staring in a new primetime BBC1 show, Secrets of Magic. His own BBC2 series, Stuff The White Rabbit, achieved record ratings for the slot. Other TV credits include presenting the travelogue Open Road, playing the voice of the toaster in Red Dwarf, and guest appearances on everything from TFI Friday to Celebrity Squares. He also fronted HoaxBusters, an ITV network show lifting the lid on scams and hoaxes.

John has performed onstage all over the world, from Beijing and Dubai to Dublin. He has toured alongside Jack Dee, Victoria Wood, Lenny Henry and Michael Ball.

Besides all this, Lenahan is one of the most successful corporate entertainers in the country. Apart from his show-stealing cabaret, he has made kitchens appear, taught Bank of England staff to juggle, read thousands of minds and levitated a 20-pound Toblerone bar. He was the first person on record to perform magic live over the Internet, for BT.

John has been described by The Guardian as ‘the mascot of a magical renaissance’ – and by Jackie Collins as ‘extremely good looking’.

John Lenahan lives in Cricklewood, London. In a world dominated by awards, he is proud to have once been voted Time Out Street Magician of the Year.

John’s novels: Shadowmagic , The Prince of Hazel & Oak and Sons of Macha are now available in one omnibus –The Shadowmagic Trilogy – published by Harper Collins and is out in paperback iBook, Nook and Kindle formats.

The Magic Circle has finally  recognised their mistake and reinstated John.

Author bio from http://podlit.wixsite.com/site-4

Author Links: | Facebook | Website | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin (@JackieMBaldwin1) @KillerReads

Dead Man's Prayer (1)Ex-priest DI Frank Farrell has returned to his roots in Dumfries, only to be landed with a disturbing murder case. Even worse, Farrell knows the victim: Father Boyd, the man who forced him out of the priesthood fifteen years earlier.

With no leads, Farrell must delve into the old priest’s past, one that is inextricably linked with his own. But his attention is diverted when twin boys go missing. One twin is recovered in an abandoned church, unharmed. But where is his brother?

As Farrell investigates the two cases he can’t help but feel targeted. Is someone playing a sinister game, or is he seeing patterns that don’t exist? Either way, it’s a game Farrell needs to win before he loses his grip on his sanity, or someone else turns up dead.

Welcome to my stop on the Dead Man’s Prayer blog tour.  I was over the moon to be asked to participate in Jackie’s tour as DMP sounds a stonking read!  I can’t wait to get started on this one, once the #terrifyingTBR becomes a smidge less terrifying!

I am delighted to have a guest post by Jackie Baldwin to share with you today.  When Jackie suggested writing about what drives her to explore crime, I was thrilled.  It’s a brilliant post, very suited to damppebbles and I love it.  Over to Jackie…

What Drives Me To Explore Crime?

As a child I attended our local Convent School and developed the perception that there was good and there was evil. The world was cast in these certainties. There was no room in this scheme of things for much in the way of grey areas.

As a newly qualified solicitor I ended up practising criminal law. In Scotland, if you are in private practice you are always acting for the defence as all cases are prosecuted by the Crown. Almost immediately, my certainties crumbled. I discovered that, for the most part, criminals were weak, inadequate individuals who made kneejerk decisions in difficult circumstances, rather than intrinsically bad people. Many of them were likeable and desired to change but found it difficult to break free of old patterns of behaviour. As Duty Solicitor I would be locked in a cell with clients who had allegedly committed a wide spectrum of crimes but strangely, I never felt threatened. I strongly believe that you can’t view a criminal without also viewing the context within which they operate. Many of my clients had traumatic upbringings with one or more abusive parents. Most of them had serious substance abuse issues. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the majority of low level crime is due to people trying to scrape money together for a fix or becoming aggressive and losing the rag when on drink or drugs. I believe that many of the addicted people I came across were effectively self-medicating for anxiety and depression. Of course, there were exceptions. Once every few years I would come across someone who made the hairs on the back of my neck prickle a warning and knew that I was in the presence of something dark and ugly.

As a writer I feel that crime is a fertile area to explore. Committing a murder is breaking a taboo. It tears down the gossamer web of society we have wrapped round ourselves to feel safe. This can only be restored when the murderer has been caught and punished. In the old days when detection rates were low and punishment functioned as both deterrent and retribution there was the public spectacle of the hanging. Then, as detection rates increased and society evolved, punishment retreated behind high walls and more complex needs had to be balanced such as retribution, deterrence and rehabilitation.

In that sense, every crime novel is like a quest. Every resolution brings a feeling of release. I am particularly drawn to the psychology of crime in fiction. In real life crime can be swift and brutal, apparently random and motiveless at times. In fiction, I like to understand the internal logic of the villain. People are complex. Often our motivations are buried deep in our unconscious mind and hidden from us. One psyche can consist of many different parts. In damaged people these parts can be in opposition to each other, fighting for supremacy in a subterranean, hidden war, in which the outward explosion of violence can signify a battle lost.

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Thanks again, Jackie for this insightful piece.  I can’t wait to read Dead Man’s Prayer so look out for a review coming your way soon (hopefully)!

Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin was published in the UK by Killer Reads on 2nd September 2016 and is available in eBook format (paperback to be published in December 2016) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | KillerReads |

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Photo credit to Kim Ayres

Jackie Baldwin is a Scottish crime writer and former criminal lawyer. Dead Man’s Prayer is her debut novel.

Connect with Jackie via Twitter @JackieMBaldwin1 or Jackie’s Facebook Author Page.

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Guest Post: Chris Curran @Christi_Curran (author of Mindsight & Her Turn To Cry) #damppebblesTakeOver

I am absolutely thrilled to have the very talented Chris Curran join me on damppebbles today as part of my #damppebblestakeover series.  July may have come to an end but I still have a number of fabulous guest posts to share with you, you lucky people 🙂

Chris has written two psychological suspense novels; Mindsight which was published in 2015 and Her Turn To Cry, which was published in eBook format in July (with the paperback hitting the shelves in September).  I have a review copy of Her Turn To Cry on my TBR so keep an eye out for my review soon.  To whet your appetite, here is the blurb and cover of Her Turn To Cry:

61x-3uE4hEL“Twelve years ago Joycie Todd’s mother abandoned her. But what if she never really left? A tautly written psychological suspense novel, perfect for fans of B.A. Paris and Alex Lake.

London, 1965. Top model Joycie Todd lives a glittering life with photographer Marcus Blake. But her childhood tells a different story…

When she was eleven, Joycie’s mother disappeared. Run away with another man, so everyone says. But Joycie can’t forget the thumps she heard in the night, or the bloodstained rug hidden under the bed. A rug that was gone the next day.

Twelve years later, Joycie has left her past behind. But when an old friend dies, Joycie is left a letter beseeching her to find out the truth. Unable to keep the door locked any longer, Joycie sets out to discover why her mother left her – if she ever really did.

As she travels to the shabby seaside towns of her childhood, Joycie soon finds that it’s not just her mother who vanished all those years ago. Joycie knows the disappearances are connected, she just doesn’t know how. But there’s someone out there who does – and they will do anything to keep it buried.”

Sounds fantastic and I can’t wait to read it.

Recently Barbara Copperthwaite appeared on damppebbles with a brilliant post about domestic noir; a subgenre we’ve all heard of, right?  But what about amnesia noir?  OK, it doesn’t actually exist, but maybe it should….?  Over to you Chris.

Amnesia Noir? Some favourite crime novels of memory loss

At the recent Bristol Crimefest I was asked a question about the role that memory plays in my debut novel, Mindsight. It’s a crucial element of the mystery because the main character, Clare, is unable to remember the car crash in which she killed several members of her family whilst under the influence of drugs.

It wasn’t until I was answering the question that I realised that memory, or the lack of it, is also important in my new book, Her Turn To Cry. Joycie Todd is living a charmed life as a model in 1960s swinging London, but she is scarred by what happened during her childhood and has blocked many memories from that time, including what she knows of her mother’s disappearance.  So memory seems to be a thread running through my work.

Then I began to notice how often characters with memory loss or fractured memories occur in crime fiction generally. A protagonist with this kind of problem has an obvious mystery to solve, even if that is the last thing they want to do. This can make for the perfect unreliable narrator. Memory problems are often connected with a traumatic event the character can’t bear to remember. So is this something terrible that was done to them or something they have done?  The truth about their situation is a secret even from themselves and, however sympathetic they may appear, the reader is bound to suspect them as well as those around them.

There is no crime sub-genre called amnesia noir, but if there was these novels would certainly be some of my favourite examples.

What better place to start than with Wilkie Collins and his masterful examination of memory and identity: The Woman In White. The title character, Anne Catherick, appears to Walter Hartright, like a ghost, on a dark road at the very start of the story and remains a wraithlike presence throughout. She closely resembles Laura, the woman Walter comes to love, but is forever on the edges of the narrative. Nor does she figure as one of the many narrators, whose disparate and quirky voices bring the novel to vibrant life. But Anne, her mind confused and twisted by her incarceration in a Victorian asylum, is the lynchpin of the whole novel speaking truths that sound like madness.

Christine, in SJ Watson’s novel, Before I Go To Sleep, wakes every morning with no memory of the past and knows only what the husband she can’t remember and her, equally unfamiliar, doctor tell her about who she is and what happened to her. But can she trust either of them? And can she even rely in her own diary, written every evening and discovered anew each time she wakes?

Rob Ryan from Tana French’s, chilling novel, In the Woods, is a police officer, but his ordeal occurred when he was a child. He went into the woods with two friends and was found bloodied and tied to a tree. The others were never seen again. He has changed his name and seems to have blotted out all memory of his ordeal but is forced to confront it when a recently murdered child is found in the same woods where his nightmare occurred.

Rachel, in The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins, has black-outs because of her drinking and is clearly an unreliable narrator. Embittered and resentful, she commutes daily to a job she’s been sacked from and obsessively watches her old home, where her ex-husband still lives. But when she believes she has seen an act of violence from the train she tries to get her behaviour back under control and solve the mystery. All, of course, is not as it seems.

Another alcoholic is Charlotte in All Things Nice by Sheila Bugler. She has only hazy memories of the night of her birthday party and fears she may have done more than fight with her daughter, Freya, when Freya’s boyfriend, Kieran, is found knifed to death near Charlotte’s home. One thing she does recall, however, is that she has very personal reasons to hate Kieran.

Emma Healey’s poignant take on the mystery genre is Elizabeth Is Missing. The Elizabeth of the title is the friend of dementia sufferer, Maud, who pursues her investigation into Elizabeth’s disappearance with dogged determination to the embarrassment of her long suffering daughter and the irritation of the police and Elizabeth’s relatives. They all insist there has been no crime. If Maud’s grasp on the present is sketchy, to say the least, her recall of the past is pin-sharp, especially of one particular event. In 1946 Maud’s elder sister vanished and in Maud’s unravelling mind the old and the new mysteries begin to overlap and entwine.

Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane, is set in 1950s America on an island that houses a high security asylum for the criminally insane. Federal Marshall, Teddy Daniels, and his new partner, Chuck, arrive to investigate the disappearance of child killer, Rachel Solando. As a storm rages, isolating the island, Teddy begins to suspect that Rachel may not be the only missing patient. The reactions of the inmates, but also of the staff are often unsettling and in keeping with the paranoia of the times, the spectre of mind control drugs and experiments begins to hover over his investigation.

The possibility of mind control, this time in contemporary Britain, looms large in CJ Carver’s fast moving novel, Spare Me The Truth. Part spy thriller, part police procedural, part psychological mystery, it features three main characters including Dan Forrester. He lost a chunk of memory after the accidental death of his three year old son, for which he blames himself. Dan has managed to reclaim some contentment in a settled domestic life with his wife and daughter, until he is confronted by a woman who claims that they worked together and that his past is very different from what he has been told. It’s not long before Dan begins to suspect that everyone has been lying to him and that he knows nothing, even about himself.

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What a fascinating post, thank you Chris.  I’ve read two of the books you mention in your post – one of which I loved, the other I didn’t enjoy at all!  Have you read any of the books Chris mentions?  Or can you think of any other examples that would fall into the ‘amnesia noir’ category?  Let me know in the comments.

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Chris Curran has written two psychological crime novels for Harper Collins Killer Reads. She left school at sixteen to work in the local library – her dream job then and now – and spent an idyllic few months reading her way around the shelves before reluctantly returning to full- time education. She lives in Hastings on the south coast of England where she is a proud shareholder of the recently reopened pier. Amongst other things she has worked as a primary school teacher, an actress and an editor, all the time dreaming of the day when she would see her own books gracing those library shelves. Connect with Chris via Twitter @Christi_Curran | Chris’ amazon author page | Chris’ website | Chris’ Facebook author page | KillerReads on Twitter @KillerReads |